Apple is clearly positioning the upcoming iPhone 5c as its next smartphone for the masses. The colored, plastic device is the first thing you see when visiting Apple.com or the company's iPhone page. But just days ahead of launch, Apple is today breaking a trend; it's not providing any indication of how well iPhone 5c pre-orders are going.

For three years running, Apple has been quick to boast about early consumer interest in the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 5. It started small. In 2010, Apple announced that the iPhone 4 had seen 600,000 pre-orders in 24 hours — the most the company had ever received in a single day. Things only grew from there. The iPhone 4S surpassed one million pre-orders in 24 hours, with the iPhone 5 doubling that success one year ago. Last year, Apple's update came on the Monday after pre-orders began, but the company's PR team has been mum today. And Wall Street may have noticed the silence.

For the first time in recent memory, Apple isn't boasting about pre-orders

Today Apple shares fell again, with AllThingsD's John Paczowski attributing the decline to a lack of hard pre-order numbers and decreased subsidies at China Telecom. It's impossible to gauge iPhone fever by looking at Apple's pre-order page for the iPhone 5c: every single model of the device remains available for a 9/20 delivery date, contrasting with years past where availability was quickly pushed back within a day or two. But since the iPhone 5c is essentially an iPhone 5 in a colored plastic shell, Apple may simply have a strong handle on components and supply this time around.

The same can't be said for the iPhone 5s. Apple's "forward thinking" flagship phone was not made available for pre-order after last week's event. Instead, consumers will need to line up at the company's retail stores or purchase a device online beginning Friday. But why? The decision all but guarantees lines outside Apple Stores nationwide, and Apple may be anticipating supply constraints thanks to the A7 chip and Touch ID sensor built into the iPhone 5s. Daring Fireball's John Gruber says he expects the 5c will be available in "greater numbers" than its higher-end counterpart — at least at launch. We've reached out to Apple for comment on this story.